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A friend sympathizes. After all, your friend points out, 60 percent of college students report doing it at least once. Women are now as free as men to explore their sexuality without encumbrances. Of course, she never did it. Why not give it a try? Proceed with caution. FWB requires a separation between love and sex that can be very hard for many women to sustain over time. There are reasons why the price of a few sexual encounters can be the loss of a very long friendship. Part of the reason is grounded in classic behavioral psychology.
Remember reinforcers? Give a pigeon a treat every time he pecks a bar and he really wants to peck that bar. You and your FWB hung out as friends because of shared interests in politics, Proust, and baseball, not because you saw him as date material. You know he cheated on every woman he ever dated. You know that he has major hangups about commitment. Before you started sleeping with him, you ignored his flaws as a romantic partner.
But now — now the powerful, positive feelings of orgasm may make all that seem like small stuff. Orgasm is a powerful reinforcer of behavior for both sexes. It feels great. When paired with a particular person over time, it can make a casual sexual partner look good — very, very good. Looking good can start to look like love, whether the person is really appropriate or not. He figured you knew what you were getting into. Why would you think he was going to change?
Another reason is biological: Both men and women release oxytocin , the hormone and neurotransmitter, during orgasm. Oxytocin calms us down, soothes our anxieties, and mellows us out. Some research shows that it is associated with the ability to maintain healthy relationships.
This is the hormone that is released during childbirth. It also surges when women nurse their babies. She bonds. Tell that to your hormones. Some of it seems to be evolutionarily hardwired. The tension between those two forces is at the core of romantic love. When a woman sees that man as the person who can partner with her to make a family and a life, she reciprocates with equal ardor. Some of it is about how you were raised. The double standard still exists for the majority of the world. Well — sometimes and for some. There are still many families that promote sexual abstinence and churches and organizations that celebrate chastity pledges for young girls.
There are many places and cultures in the world that place high value on female virginity. If you were raised with such values, they may well argue with the part of you that wants to explore your sexuality freely and with no strings attached. Often, the resolution is to fall in love with the FWB as a way to justify your actions. We live in a time when TV dramas even comedies and movies tout sex among unmarried couples and friends as a norm and FWB arrangements as a solution to sexual frustration. Can women engage in a FWB relationship without becoming yet another romantic casualty statistic?
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